In fair Verona, where Shakespeare lays his scene, Romeo and Juliet kiss on a balcony while the young bloods of their feuding families fight it out in the street. In New York, four centuries and countless adaptations later, their tragic tale is being reenacted on Broadway by Sharks and Jets, tussling for turf and pride on New York’s West Side, and a Hollywood company is scouting barrio locations for a movie version.
As it happens, a trio of stage and screen events this week circle around that three-point connection. Shakespeare & Company performs the original at its home base in Lenox; Amherst Cinema presents a sing-along screening of West Side Story; and Matthew Lopez’s Somewhere, set in 1959 when the musical was the toast of New York, receives its East Coast premiere at Hartford Stage.
Romeo and Juliet (pictured) takes the stage at Shakespeare & Company (Shakespeare.org) on April 10, 11 and 17—a home stand in the company’s Northeast Regional Tour. The annual tour employs the “bare Bard” approach to portable, accessible Shakespeare: six actors playing all the parts in a slimmed-down 90-minute performance acted by a troupe of young professionals. This year’s production, which will also figure in S&Co’s summer schedule, features cross-gender casting and Valley native Kaileela Hobby as both Tybalt and Lady Capulet.
Leather jackets and dance shoes are not required for the one-night screening of West Side Story at Amherst Cinema (amherstcinema.org) on Monday. April 14, but lusty vocals are de rigueur, as the classic film is subtitled for karaoke-style audience participation. Sing along with Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer (excuse me: Marni Nixon and Jimmy Bryant) to the unforgettable Bernstein/Sondheim score—songs like “Maria,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Cool,” “Officer Krupke,” “America” and “Somewhere.”
And Somewhere, at Hartford Stage (hartfordstage.org) through May 4, focuses on a New York Puerto Rican family that identifies with West Side Story and is star-struck by its elusive promise of stardom. In Matthew Lopez’ dance-filled comedy/drama, Inez Candelaria and her three children dream of a life in show biz, as the plans go forward to shoot scenes for the movie version on the streets of their neighborhood—which is, ironically, about to be demolished to make way for Lincoln Center.